Senscape’s Asylum is a horror adventure heading to PC later this year, courtesy of the Steam Greenlight program. A long time coming, this first-person point-n’-click adventure is a videogame based on prior knowledge of the genre and a burning sense of curiosity, and even in Electronic Theatre’s smallest of experiences with the ‘interactive teaser,’ both were evident throughout.
Beginning in a cafeteria, a small amount of backstory is offered through player-character narration. This institution was once your home, and it did not offer a peaceful existence. Memories return upon investigation of the area; friends and enemies from your youth, moments that shaped you and those which instilled you with venom. The decaying architecture and appliances now offer a tangible sense of dread. This may be a familiar locale, but it’s far beyond its prime.
The visual quality is simply fantastic. Items in the environment are immediately recognisable even at a distance, and those which can be interacted with rarely stand-out from the believable environments. Player’s aren’t simply given a signpost to follow; they must truly explore the environments. Point-n’-click titles often purport to assign the player the role of detective, but rarely do their visual qualities work to support that intention as well as they do here in Asylum.
The puzzle structure – though examples were decidedly limited in the build available to Electronic Theatre – appear to follow a typical point-n’-click design with an unusual interface. Players can collect items from the environment to access new areas and continue their journey, however these aren’t simply placed in an inventory as one might expect. Instead, the only on-screen furniture aside from the player’s interaction cursor is that of a virtual notepad. This notepad lists all items collected, important notes and objectives, and as each one is completed marks them off. It’s a simple yet perfectly implemented design decision.
For a videogame entering what has recently become a very crowded genre, Asylum has plenty of interesting ideas to show even in the short space of time Electronic Theatre has spent with the videogame. The intentionally cautious pacing is testament to the foreboding atmosphere that Senscape have clearly worked tirelessly to create, and with a passion for the devilishly grotesque that could rival Silent Hill, Asylum is most certainly a horror adventure to keep an eye on.